International Soccer
 
        === Balotelli lifts Italy over Mexico in Confederations Cup ===
 
 Rio  de Janeiro, Brazil (Sports Network) - Mario Balotelli's strike 12 minutes
 from  time  lifted Italy  to a  2-1 victory over  Mexico in Confederations Cup
 group A play on Sunday at the Maracana Stadium.
 
 Andrea  Pirlo opened the scoring for Italy, but the goal was canceled out by a
 penalty  kick  from Javier Hernandez for  Mexico. But it was the much-maligned
 Balotelli  who scored in the 78th minute to assure a full three points for his
 side.
 
 The result pulls Italy into a tie with Brazil for the top spot in group A with
 three points, while Mexico and Japan sit on the bottom of the group.
 
 Both sides had ample scoring opportunities in the first half, but it was Pirlo
 who  gave  Italy the 1-0  lead in  the 27th minute  when he curled a beautiful
 right-footed  free kick over the wall and into the top left corner of the net,
 leaving Mexico goalkeeper Jose Corona with no chance for a save.
 
 Six  minutes later  Mexico got  back into  the game  when forward  Giovani Dos
 Santos  was  pulled down  in  the  penalty  area  by Italian  defender  Andrea
 Barzagli, resulting in a spot kick.
 
 Hernandez  stepped  up to the  spot and calmly fired  it into the bottom right
 corner,  sending  Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi  Buffon the  wrong way to put the
 sides back on level terms.
 
 But  the Italians  found a winner 12 minutes from time as Emanuele Giaccherini
 used  a deft right-footed touch to flick the ball over the heads of the Mexico
 back four.
 
 Balotelli  was there to  latch onto the ball, fend off a pair of defenders and
 fire it into the net to make it 2-1.
 
 Both teams will be back in action on June 19 when Italy faces Japan and Mexico
 locks horns with Brazil.
 
 In  Sunday's group  B Confederations Cup match,  Spain held on for a tense 2-1
 win over Uruguay.
 
 Spain  dominated possession for almost the entire 90 minutes and collected the
 game's  first goal  in the  20th minute  as a  right-footed volley  from Pedro
 deflected  off the  leg of a Uruguay defender  and wound up in the back of the
 net to make it 1-0.
 
 12  minutes later, Spain struck again through Roberto Soldado, who collected a
 deft pass in the box and ripped it into the net to make it a two-goal margin.
 
 But  Uruguay  kept at  it and  finally pulled  one back  two minutes from time
 when  Liverpool man Luis Suarez ripped a beautifully-struck free kick into the
 top left corner of the net to cut his side's deficit in half.
 
 Uruguay  pressed  for an equalizer  following the  goal, but with only minutes
 remaining, the South Americans were never able to produce a tying goal.
 
 Spain,  which  will resume Confederations Cup  play on June 20 against Tahiti,
 moves  to the  top of  group B,  while Uruguay  will shoot  for a  bounce back
 performance against Nigeria, also on June 20.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 06/16 19:59:19 ET

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